Escaping at Last!

12/24/2008

Thirteen days of being trapped inside my home, and I’m finally being freed!  Hallelujah, amen!  I could not have gotten out if it wasn’t for my brother-in-law John, and one of my personal assistants; they literally had to dig a path out for me.  Three inches of snow turned into a stunning six inches beside the sidewalk! 

 

I was so elated to be outside in the fresh, crisp air.  The snow was so glaringly white, I had to squint my eyes.    My sister, Marilyn helped me to transfer into the car.  I pretended to have strong roots so that my feet slide out from under me. (I always believe in the power of positive thinking!)  I love leather seats in cars, because my bottom just slides right into place, and I was again thankful that my brother-in-law has good tastes in choosing cars!     The parking lot was a mess of snow and ice; none of my neighbors had been too ambitious about digging out to freedom. 

 

I thought once we got out to the main road everything would be smooth sailing, but no the roads were still treacherous and very bumpy with snow and ice.   John was sweet  and drove my personal assistant down the hilll to the transit center so she could catch a bus.  It’s amazing what three inches of snow, tire chains, and two weeks worth of bad weather can do to roads, potholes were  popping up everywhere!  The car hit some jarring ruts, and we psssed some downed trees which made me aware that an iced limb could come crashing down on us. Definitely not a comforting image!  I absurdly thought, oh just take me back home where I am nice and safe!  We made it safely my sister’s house, which is the opposite direction of the transit center, and about two and a half miles from my apartment.  Again, we gingerly made it into the house. 

 

We were there for about two hours when the electricity went off.  Marilyn had just put two pumpkin pies, two loaves of homemade bread, and our traditional delicious Christmas Eve casserole  into her ovens.  She was fit-to-betide herself!  She didn’t know if she should leave everything in the ovens or what.  I was fit-to-betide myself, because even though I wasn’t without food at home, the pickings there was getting scarce, and I was salvating with anticipation of the delicious meal! 

 

I think maybe an half hour passed when we saw a PGE truck turning around in Marilyn’s driveway.  Marilyn went to investigate, and just as she shut the door, the LTD light on my communication device went off.  I nearly jumped out of my skin.  It’s not that I am afraid of the dark, it’s just that when the two things happened instantaneously, it felt a little unsettling!   I’m sure another person would have jumped, too.  My Pathfinder gives off a lot of light: some people have even told my that it lights up like a Christmas tree, although I fail to see the comparison.  John got their generator started, however the oven couldn’t run off it.  At least I could continue reading my book; I had something to do other then dwell on the dinner that might not happen.  Another forty minutes passed when the PGE truck turned around in the driveway again.  I had a feeling that they had found the problem, and the electricity would be back on very soon.  Within fifteen minutes the power gloriously went on. 

 

As soon as John switched the electricity back on, Marilyn was turning on her oven.  However, her large oven didn’t want to work.  There was some tense moments in the house.  John thought that maybe a fuse had blown.  My nephew who was really hungry from working hard on the farm all day, wanted to kick the oven.  Whoever started beating appliances to get them working again, must have been one desperate person, right?    Even though I agreed with my sister that he shouldn’t kick the oven, the desperate part of me wanted to help my nephew kick the energy back into the oven!  Finally Marilyn set the clock on the stove, and the oven decided to work.  There was a collective sigh of relief from all four of us, and soon enough we were relishing in consuming a wonderful delicious meal.   

 

 While our food was digesting we watched the movie, A Christmas Story.  My Christmas wouldn’t be complete without seeing this movie at least three times! 

 

Happy Holidays! 

 

Jan

Posted at 10:06 PM by useuraac@yahoo.com

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I am Stuck in a Snow Globe

.Today is my Dad’s favorite day of the year. Today is December twenty-first; the first day of winter. However, more to the point, it is the shortest day of the year as far as daylight hours. Every day after this gets longer by 30 seconds in the morning and evening. The farmer in my Dad has drilled it in me that we should make the most out of every speck of light from the day, and in the recent years has practically declared it a national holiday!

It is hard to believe that winter just started today, since the Pacific Northwest has been hit with severe winter weather. On the fourteenth we had two to three inches of snow, and basically the weather stayed frigid for seven days straight. My personal assistants have been coming and going cautiously! Two of my personal assistants have been relying on taxis to get here, and two were fortunate to have their significant others drive them.

I have not ventured from my home since the eleventh! Do I have cabin fever? That would be an affirmative, yeeees! I feel like I’m in a snow globe! With the snow slowly falling, and the streetlights glinting on the snow making it look sparkling. Do you see me with my fists pounding on the glass dome mouthing, “Let me out! Let me out!”

The weather forecasters predicted that Friday and Saturday would be good days to get out. On Thursday, I had my personal assistant call the Lift to order a ride for me on Friday afternoon. Before even talking to a person, a recorded message told us that only life sustaining medical rides were being granted. I allowed myself to moan and whine for thirty seconds, and then I promised myself I would for sure go out on Saturday, I could wait until Saturday! It was suppose to be the better day to get out and about anyway. When we ordered the ride for Saturday, the ride was accepted. However, I was warned that the ride could be cancelled due to the weather. Still I was highly encouraged that they did not decline the ride right off the bat! Since the weather forecasters predicted another storm front hitting around 5PM, I decided I would just go to the mall for three hours so I could be home before the storm started.

Saturday dawned. It was already snowing at 8AM, with no sign of it stopping. You know, normally when it snows around here, I am afraid to leave my perch by the window because when I returned it was certain that the snow would have stopped. I have never in my life seen constant snow like this! This snow was the little flake variety; the kind that sticks. We usually see big sloppy flake snow; the kind that sticks for a few hours, and then melts away! My ride out of here was set for 10:30. At 9:20 when my personal assistant was an hour and 20 minutes late getting here, I cancelled my ride. If I hadn’t ’one it, I figured Lift surely would have!

My sister tried several times to put chains on her tires. Each time she came back in dirty, sopping wet, cold, and frustrated! She didn’t much appreciate it when I told her that a guy on TV could put chains on a wheel in less then two minutes. (There is an odd thing you should know about me. Whenever I tease people I love, or feel really comfortable with, my voice quite often becomes crystal clear. And, that bit I told Carol about the quick chain putter-oner was crystal clear! I can remember sitting at the dinner table, and great zingers would float from my lips. Dad understood what I said, but he would ask me to repeat what I had said. Try as I might, I could never repeat the words even remotely with the same caliber of clarity as the first.) Shortly after that Carol’s family called to say they were going out to get a Christmas tree. Since they were going out anyway, she had her husband come to help to put the chains on. He had the chains on within five minutes. Carol came back in shaking her head in mixed awe and frustration that Kevin made it look so easy!

By this time it was around 11:30, and my personal assistant still had not made it here. She kept updating us on her progress. First Sara tried driving her pickup, but the back end kept fishtailing. Somehow she made it back home. Next Sara tried getting a cab. About two and an half hours later it shows up. The driver didn’t ’peak English, or at least pretended not to, and refused to take her up the hill. Her next option was to take the city bus. After waiting an hour and then some, someone walked by Sara and told her that the buses were not going up the hill. Carol decided that she would be brave with the chains on to go get Sara.

At two, six hours late, Sara finally made it here, and Sara barely lives over a mile from me. Carol and Sara made a deal that Sara would stay the night, so that neither woman had to worry about going out again at 10PM. By the time Sara got here, she felt sick with a cold. I didn’t want to get her bug, so I had her do the very minimum, but yet the crucial things for me. For an example, I forego getting in my recliner, because that would have required her to help me to do a transfer and she would have to get too close to me. However, I had her fix my dinner. I was starving; I needed to eat! I couldn’t send her home, because nobody was going to come relieve her in this freakish weather.

My deck is covered with about eight inches of snow.  The table and chair I have on the deck has a snow domes on them.  I wish I had a camera to capture this sight for you!  Oh, my goodness! I am sitting in my kitchen, by the sliding glass door. There is this scrawny pine tree about four feet from my deck, and about three feet from a storage unit/garage. The tree was already leaning at an 11:55 angle before the snow settled on it. The top of the tree was bowed down and resting on the garage roof from the weight of the snow. Just a minute ago, I heard a loud crack, I turned my head, and saw debris falling to the ground. The whole top of the tree snapped off! The roof and the deck still intact, thank goodness!

Right now it feels I’m going to be trapped in my apartment forever! Except! Except, today is the shortest day of the year. Seven days from now, the day will have seven more minutes of daylight. In just four weeks time, twenty-eight more minutes of daylight will be gained. I can hold on until whatever day I can exit my cave, because I know the worst of the storm is already in the past, or so that is what I am hoping! .

 

I am not entirely sure how many seconds of light is added to the days. I have heard some conflicting information. I am sure it is different amounts of time depending on what parallel on earth you call home. My Dad is claiming it’s a minute and an half at either end of the day, but he’s 82, and has some dementia. Perhaps a reader will set me straight! Whatever it is, all that matters to me is that the daylight hours are increasingly getting longer!

Posted at 1:56 PM by useuraac@yahoo.com

In Honor of Veterans Day

11/12/2008

I went out to lunch with Mom and Dad this past Sunday before Veterans Day. There was a crowd waiting to be seated. A woman held the restaurant door open for Mom, Dad and me. I think she was teasing when she said she would open the door for us if we promised not to take their table. I Laughed. The woman and her husband were waiting outside for the crowd to dwindle.

After a few seconds, the couple entered the restaurant. For some reason Dad started talking to them. He told the man that he was 82 years young, and that he was grateful to be able to get out and about like he was. Dad also told the gentleman that he was a World War 11 Veteran. The man immediately thanked Dad for the service that he provided for the United States. Just at that moment, a waitress called the couple’s name. The woman asked the waitress to seat us first. Before we started off for the table Dad and I both thanked the couple. I noticed that the waitress sat the couple down a few tables over from us. I also noticed that the couple was served their meal before us. I smiled, they were already reaping for their good deed!

We were halfway finished with our lunch, when a waitress came and squatted down at the end of our table. She had tears in her eyes as she told us that our entire tab had been paid for by a gentleman who wanted to thank Dad for fighting for our country the way he did, when he was just barely eighteen years old. Dad, Mom and I all had tears spilling from our eyes.

Dad said, “See, there still are some good people around!” However, the way I see it, it’s the power of the Christmas spirit! It’s all around us everyday! Sometimes we just see the spirit more clearly.

Posted at 12:55 PM by useuraac@yahoo.com

Earnestly Seeking Want-To-Be Bloggers

10/1/2008

Over the summer, my co-workers Rob, Amy, and I have been learning Sharepoint, the program we’re using to post blogs. Personally, I am finding that sharepoint is really easy to work with. 

 

The only real complaint I have with the program, is that I’m a slow typer, and if I don’t save my work often, the program will time me out.  So, what I usually do is type my next entry in some other program like word perfect, and then cut and paste the finished entry into the body of the blog. 

 

All too often, I will go back and read the posts I have published, and find some errors.  It’s simple to go back and make my corrections.  However, once you have published a post, it remains published.  I am sure  you can just delete an entry if you choose to, but I have yet to try it. 

 

I was even amazed that I figured out how to post pictures. Although, I vowed never to post photos, because that’s getting too private.  One day, just for my curiosity sake, I wanted to see how hard it was to upload one picture.  Within five minutes I had it figured out!  What can I say after that, just that I was hooked!  If I can figure it out, then I know  you will have no problems posting pictures, as well. 

 

I will admit to you, that I had hoped I would have more posts published by this time. However, I think I am speeding up a bit.   Last week, Amy, Rob,  and I were discussing creating a community blog.  Each blogger would have their own blog site, except when we publish a post, it will also go into a community blog.  That way, if we create a regular audience of readers, at least one of us would keep our readers supplied with new material to read.  We are hoping you all will want to start blogging. 

 

I believe with every fiber that is in me, that everybody has a story to tell.  Something that makes you unique from everyone else.  I was born on my cousin’s birthday.  I know that’s not too uncanny.  However, the fact that we were both born with cerebral palsy is definitely unique.  He had a great influence in my life.  I will most likely post something about him one of these days. Stay tuned! 

 

What is your unique story?  Do you have it in your mind? 

 

I have a few writing tips to share with you:

 

1.   Have your niche, which is the subject that you know the best to write on.  However,  write about other subjects as well.  if we write about the same thing all the time, our readers will grow bored with the blog.  

 

2.  Pace yourself. Don’t burn yourself out by thinking you have to write an entry every day.    it’s perfectly okay to write one or two posts a week, or even once a month if that’s the only time you can spare. we know you have a life to lead.  So, enjoy your life, and while you’re at it, collect things to write about.  

 

3.  Writing short posts is okay, I have found out that writing long entries takes a lot of forethought and energy on my part.  By writing short posts, I can generate other entries faster.  However, if from time to time, I might have  the creative juices flowing, I’m going to keep writing until I’m good and ready to finish. 

 

4.  Have opinions. I might not necessary like a bloggers writing style, however I find myself returning to their blogs, because I’m curious about what opinions they are going to express today.  

 

5.  Encourage participation. Keep your blog interesting by asking your readers questions.  When readers post comments to a blog entry a new dynamic opens for both blogger and reader.  They are able to communicate back and forth, and exchange thoughts and ideas, and in that process  new friends are made!     

 

6.  Mix up your topics: reading about the same things gets boring.  Nobody likes a broken record.    

 

7.  Explore new areas: be diversified. 

 

8.  Write about your own experiences and interests. Keep your blog real and uniquely you, while maintaining a level of privacy.  For instance I never mention what town I live in, and I change names to protect the innocent. 

 

9.  If you are not sure readers will think your blog would be interesting to them.  Try this exercise:  Step into their shoes for a little while, and see if is interesting from their viewpoint.   

 

Are you wondering who can start blogging via Sharepoint?   We want Self Advocates who are willinng to share what is like to live with their disability.  We also would like to see our co-workers at CDRC contributing to this blog sitde as well.  You can write about a number of things: your research projects, your favorite restaurants, funny life storie, timely issues, ect.      

 

If anyone is interested in becoming a blogger, post a comment telling me your wishes.  I will see to it that you get hooked up! 

Posted at 3:07 PM by useuraac@yahoo.com

Apple Recipes

9/16/2008

Now it is really hard for me to withhold a laugh!  When my personal assistant said that she didn’t know how to make applesauce, I felt a laugh aching to burst forth!  My sister has made it abundantly clear to me that making applesauce is really easy with the following recipe! The teacher in me also wanted to tell her how  simple it can be!  However, I didn’t want her to change her mind and make applesauce.  The desire to have the pleasure of consuming the apple crisp made it possible for me to choke back my laughter! 

 

Enjoy the recipes!   

 

Applesauce:

5 to 8 apples peeled, cored and quartered

Cook in microwave for 4 or 5 minutes, add more time as needed, after apples have cooked and are soft add the following.

Add small amount of sugar – to taste (less than a ¼ of a cup)

Add small amount of cinnamon – to taste (less than a ¼ of a teaspoon)

Add a small amount of nutmeg – to taste (less than a ¼ of a teaspoon)

Stir until it is mixed, then enjoy J

GERMAN APPLE PANCAKES (DUTCH BABIES)
Thanks for sharing this recipe Leslie

Pancake:
Whisk together and set aside:
3/4 c. flour
3/4 c. milk
3 eggs

Apple Filling
Mix all in a mixing bowl
2 apples (diced)
1/2 t. cinnamon
1 T. lemon juice
1/4 c. brown sugar
2 T. butter

Add apples and lemon juice to frying pan with 2 T. butter and sauté about 10 minutes.  Mix in cinnamon.  Put a little butter into Round Tray and melt in oven.  Divide apple mixture among wells, then add 1/4 c. + 1 T. batter  in each well.  Bake at 425 for 15 minutes until puffy, golden and done in the center.  Drizzle maple syrup on top if you like.
You can save yourself a step by putting the apples and lemon juice with butter into each cup of the Round Tray and cook in oven first.

 

It’s apple season!

9/11/2008

My sister brought me a bag of apples from the apple tree in her yard.  I got down to just a few apples, like maybe eight.  I wanted someone to make me an apple crisp.  One person said that I didn’t have enough apples, that I should just make apple sauce.  Then another personal assistant came.  I asked her to make apple sauce.  She said “I don’t know how to make apple sauce, but I will make you an apple crisp.”  I told her that she was speaking my language!  I am forever amazed that what someone deems impossible, another thinks possible! 

Posted at 3:16 PM by useuraac@yahoo.com

Definitely Not My Most Charming Moment

8/20/2008

It wasn’t my most brilliant moment!  I am positive I looked like a crazy woman!  I  had arranged three rides on Lift this past Monday.  I normally stay away from a three designation trip, but sometimes I have to do what I need to do, and a few errands of mine needed to be handled. 

 

First, I went to the bank.  Then I went to the mall, because I needed to put more minutes on the cell phone.  When I was all finished, I planned to wheel to a grocery store, which was approximately two long blocks away.  It took longer then I expected to get my phone problems settled.  Then I let my personal assistant go and pick out a card, because I’m so nice! 

 

By this  time it was just after two.  The fact was a bit alarming to me, because I wanted to be at the grocery store shopping at three.  I was ravenously hungry.  If you have ever been ravenous when shopping; you know that the combo is lethal on the food bill!  I had to eat something before getting to the store!  Now I am not  the fastest eater, but I managed to gobble down a crispy bean burrito, and mexican fries, and a drink in record time.  When I was done eating it was about 3:20.

 

Now I start panicking, because my ride home was scheduled between 4:30 and 5:00.  Making matters worse,   I had never tried walking to this particular store before, but I figured it could be done.  It was an easy walk, but it took longer then I thought it should.  When we reached the grocery store it was 4:15. 

 

I considered just waiting outside the grocery store for the bus to arrive a split second, then rushed inside.  The bus could either be right on time, or 45 minutes away.   I wasn’t about going to wait around for 45 minutes, and wished I had taken the time to at least grabbed something for dinner.  My personal assistant and I went into high gear and started a fifteen minute supermarket sweep dash.  I am quite impressed with our accomplishment.  We grabbed only things on my list, and I didn’t run anyone over while doing it!  

 

I had just finished paying for the groceries, and the personal assistant was bagging the things up, when a  bus driver approached us.  He asked Margo if I was Jan Staehely.  Instantly my body went rigid, and was giving off some body language all it’s own.  My communication device was low on it’s battery, so with my own voice, I tried telling him that he could talk to me directly, but he just looked back at Margo and asked her what was wrong with me.  She told him that I wanted him to talk right to me, and not assume she and I were together.  He just said, “Oh!”  Then to me he said, “Shall we go get on the bus.  I said, “Sure!” 

 

I took off like a bolt of lightning.  I was irritated with the bus driver.  When I reached the bus about 10.06 seconds before he did, (Excuse me, I have been watching the Olympics!  Isn’t Phelps amazing!)  There was a bicyclist parking his bike at a bike pole.  The bike pole just happened to be right in front of of where the wheelchair lift would have come down.  The bicyclist ran inside the store before the driver realized what had happened.  I just had to snicker a little bit to myself, because the driver had to move   the bus enough to let the lift down. 

 

As soon as I entered the vehicle, I understood the driver’s motivation.  There were two other passengers already on the bus.  He thought he would shave off a few seconds by asking my personal assistant my name, help motivate me to get out to the bus, so that he could get back to his other passengers.   I guess his plan backfired on him!   I totally understood his need to get back to the bus, however I wish he would have addressed me straight from the beginning. 

 

It is my humble belief that most everyone knows their name, and can simply nod or  shake  their head to indicate yes or no  The  real issue is patience on the listener’s end!  If there is the slight pause, say five to ten seconds, the listener tends to sweat and wonder what they should do.  In reality, it may take me about fifteen to twenty-five seconds to think how to say something, and then another fifteen to thirty seconds to reply.   I just wish that everyone would treat people with disabilities the very same way they would like to be talked to! 

Posted at 9:37 AM by useuraac@yahoo.com